I've been through quite a lot. We're talking about the sort of stuff that could easily make me lose my faith in love, the goodness of humanity and even myself. The fact that I never have lost those things - at least not permanently - is a source of pride.
But lately, I've realised that maybe my barriers should be higher. Maybe I should believe in people less. That's not a nice thought, but perhaps it's a self-preservation tactic that I ought to employ.
You see, I believe the things I'm told. Not blindly, of course; if you tell me that in times of stress, a badger is able to ward off danger by dazzling its enemy with a rousing rendition of The Macarena, I'd be inclined to question you (although I would love to see that happen...). But when someone tells me nice things about myself, or when someone makes me promises, I have this irritating habit of taking it at face value.
What I'm saying is, I suffer from premature excitement.
I really, genuinely wish this wasn't the case. Because getting excited about something that doesn't exist sucks.
Have you ever had someone tell you "I really want to do *this* with you," only to discover shortly afterwards that they've already done it and you didn't get an invite? I have.
Have you ever had someone you're attracted to, flirt with you and talk about the things you could do together, only for them to drop off the face of the Earth, then pop up days later with a shiny new partner you had no idea about? I have. Like, really recently.
And in cases like those, I always end up being hurt. Because, no matter how many times I say "oh, I'm not going to get excited about this," inside, in my incredibly foolish heart, I'm already there.
Don't get me wrong, I know why people like me believe in promises of potential romance, or everlasting friendship or whatever. It's because we want to.
NOW IS NOT THE TIME, BILLIE.
When someone tells you that you're sexually appealing to them, or that they'll always be there for you, you want to accept that as truth. Because the thought that actually, that person (or those people) don't really mean what they say is hurtful.
If someone opened with "hi, I find you marginally attractive and I'm willing to flirt with you until someone I actually fancy comes along," most people would shrug their shoulders and say "no, thanks." If someone said: "Here's an invitation to something I'm actually going to go and do with other people without you knowing about it," you'd frown and ask why the heck they were bothering to pretend to invite you in the first place.
And bizarrely, I've reached the conclusion that I almost wish people would say things like that. Because then you'd know where you stand. And I'd be standing well away from those people, with no risk of being hurt.
Honesty is a trait I admire in other people. It's something I think is vital to any form of relationship. Being open about how you feel, what you want and whether you actually mean the things you say is so important. Sure, sometimes when people are honest, it means telling us things we don't want to hear. And that can hurt. But it hurts less than finding out that the very words that someone made you all happy and excited with, were actually just words. Without real meaning or intention behind them.
You know when you book a holiday, there's the option to buy cancellation insurance? Well, I feel like there should be cancellation insurance on life. So, if things go tits up, you're protected from feeling like you've lost everything.
Sadly, that kind of insurance doesn't exist. And yes, pain is a human emotion we all have to go through sometimes, and yes, we can learn from painful experiences. The thing is, I don't want to learn that the best way to go through life is by not believing anyone who says anything too nice to me. I want to believe that if a guy tells me I'm gorgeous and he'd love to be with me, he actually means it. I want to believe that when people say they're always going to be around, they're actually going to, you know, be around.
The trouble is, right now, I don't.